What a long winter this has turned out to be! This, combined with the closure of some of our regular haunts, has made reading an activity that many people have turned to. Whether it’s to escape, to learn, or to be entertained, reading fills a special spot in many people’s lives.
Buying new books can be expensive, but have you seen any Little Free Libraries popping up in your neighbourhood? The idea of the Little Free Library came from Todd Bol and Rick Brooks in Wisconsin in 2009. Since then, LFL have spread to more than 100 countries around the world. There are currently close to 200 registered LFL throughout BC and many more unregistered ones.
The first time I encountered a Little Free Library was in downtown Calgary several years ago. The structure looked like a large, colourful birdhouse. As I looked through the glass door, I was astonished to discover it contained two shelves brimming with books. I opened the little door and spent several minutes looking at the various titles, both for children and adults. I was amazed at the wide variety and great calibre of the books. I chose one book which, once finished, eventually made its way into the hands of an interested and grateful fellow passenger on an airplane.
Since that first experience, I have encountered these Little Free Libraries in communities throughout BC and other provinces across Canada. Each LFL looks different. Some are plain, others exuberant, some large, others quite small, some very tall and narrow, others short and wide. Just the sight of them makes me smile and the anticipation of what treasures they may contain brings me joy. I am grateful to those who have taken the time to build these libraries and to the stores and people that have donated building materials. This is community-building at its finest, while at the same time fostering a love of reading.
Once in place, these Little Free Libraries help bring the world of literacy to both children and adults alike. With no sign-out process, they are very simple to use. Community members can put books they no longer wish to keep into a LFL. Any community member may take out a book and, in this way, books can circulate widely throughout communities. When a book is borrowed, it doesn’t need to be returned, but I like returning them. I make a conscious effort to return books to a different LFL in town so books can travel even farther. It’s also exciting knowing that a book from the East Kootenays has made its way to the East Coast of Canada and vice versa. If books could talk about their journeys, the stories they’d tell!
To learn more about Free Little Libraries, visit Homepage – Little Free Library. You can see if there are any LFL in your community or get information on how to create one.
Community Literacy Outreach Coordinator Cranbrook
Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy